August 08, 2006


Share a Secret, Stop the Silence, Silence the Shame

Okay. Deep breath. My hands are shaking. This is the post that's got me scared.

Are you familiar with the blog, PostSecret? It's a very popular blogspot blog and an amazing "community art project." What happens is people send in postcards and tell their secrets anonymously. The secrets shared are riveting and often disturbing. There are many hints and references to sexual violence and child abuse on those cards. I urge you to visit but warn that it may be highly triggering. The blog even includes a suicide hotline number and a link to

Okay, now, are you also familiar with the website 43 Things? It's sort of an online community of list-makers sharing their to-do lists. As one of my 43 things, I've got listed, "send a postcard to PostSecret." I haven't done it yet.

I was thinking of this the other night and secrets just started pouring out of me in a similar process to how I get poems sometimes.

I noticed that many of them were too long to fit on a postcard. I decided I'd like to share them here. This is a risky and frightening thing for me to contemplate. But, I want to do it. I am absolutely convinced that abuse perpetuates in our silence and shame--in the secrets that we as a society too often keep (sometimes to our graves).

What would happen if we all decided to share our secrets, stop the silence and silence the shame? I think we'd be well on our way to breaking the cycle of abuse. That's where I'm convinced we'd be.

Would anyone like to join me? What would you think of having an online place to share secrets? It would be similar to PostSecret, but the secrets wouldn't have to be short enough to fit on a card. The other big difference is that we would be breaking our silence and stepping out of our anonymity as I am about to do here. What do you think? Would you do it?

Even if nobody says, "yes," I'm going to share here. Because I'm scared out of my wits, I think it's easiest for me to simply lift the words right out of my paper journal where I wrote them in the early morning hours.

Here's what I wrote:

Oh my God. I'm so afraid of what I'm going to write here. Therefore, I feel absolutely compelled to do it. I must write it. This secret is about the abandonment I felt after my parents divorced and my sexual abuse ended. All my memories of sexual abuse are retrieved memories that were previously repressed. I don't know how I know this. I just do.


My father sexually abused me
And my twin sister
For almost eight years.

Instead of feeling relieved
When the abuse ended,
I felt abandoned,
And rejected.

I had realized
My greatest fear:
I truly was
Utterly replaceable.

But, I was not replaced
By my twin sister.

I was tossed aside
Thrown on the garbage heap
In favor of three strangers
Some other woman's daughters
My new stepsisters.

I wished my father
Had gone ahead
And killed me after all.

I don't know which part of this secret is more excruciating. I just want to wail in agony.

Copyright 2006 by Marj McCabe. All Rights Reserved.

Believe it or not, I found that writing this secret down was quite cleansing and comforting for me. I felt better after I "told" my secret. It was a secret I had never before even told myself before this journal entry deep into the night.

sharing secrets is incredibally hard at first but once said is a relief thankyou for sharing your secret.

I found that sharing secrets on my blog has been the most cleansing thing I have ever done. I admire your courage in doing so also. Hugs

I am interested.
JIP: Thanks for the hug. You're right, it is a relief. I'm glad I shared. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Mysti: I'm glad you're interested and that you also have found secret sharing a cleansing, positive thing. I'll keep you posted about this.
I have been amazed at how others have not rejected me when I have told them the bad things my father did to me as a child. In the past I never told anyone. It didn't even occur to me to tell them. But as I became more aware of my unhealthy behaviors and the connection to the child abuse, I needed to externalize the junk inside of me. Writing in my journal helped. Telling others without them walking away or saying that my experience wasn't really that bad was even more helpful.

Thanks for your courage, Marj.

BTW, I like your idea of a place where people can share their secrets. Perhaps some kind of anonymous Internet bulletin board where people can just come and tell what happened to them. No one else needs to know who they are.

Of course, there might be the voyeurs visiting to get high on the abuse others experienced. But hopefully they wouldn't make the place less sacred for those who need it to be a place for release, like the Vietnam War Memorial wall has been for many.
I have a secret I want to share, but have never had the courage to think it, write it, say it, dream it... anything. The shame I still carry from it... I think you have started something that could be very powerful for us all.
Thank you for your courage to start the ball rolling. I will have to think about this... I am mortified about what anyone will think of me, but I also know how freeing it could be.

No wonder you said you needed some support. I can't imagine what that took to get out. I am glad it was a relief.

I think that a place to type secrets that can't fit on a postcard is a good idea. Definitely.

Yep I am here in the UK supporting you, Marg.

I think it is great to share your secrets on your blog, if it is what you want to do. You aren't giving away your identity to people, althought I understand that fear (albeit on a much tinier scale)

However, I don't think a blog set up solely for this would be a good idea. Is that what you were talking about at the beginnin of your post?

One of the reasons Post Secret works is because people have to make an effort in sending in the postcard. Comments on a blog are too easy to make. It would be very hard to police and you could end up with all sorts of strange and untrue comments.
Good morning Marj,

I honor your courage, and your trust in your circle of friends. You are not alone, it wasn't your fault. Yes, I would be interested in something more, more than just blogging. A "safer" place to tell secrets, to shed the weight of guilt and shame.

Sometime in my childhood, I made a vow, that the abuse would stop with me. No more. A vow my father, and his father never made.

Love Brian
Al: I'm so glad you've had some positive experiences with sharing and validation. I like your idea of secret sharing as sacred and a place for release. Yes!
Lisa: I haven't known you that long, but I already think you have shown amazing couarage on your site. I consider you a true advocate and I appreciate you. I can't think of ANY secret you could possibly reveal that would make me think any less of you. I would probably just think you even more brave and amazing. Take gentle care. I know these things can be rough.
Em: Thanks for your feedback and wonderful support. It means loads to me.
rosey: thanks for visiting and leaving your thoughtful comment. Acutally, it is possible for people to figure out my identity here with very little effort. This leads me to feel like a "Nervous Nelly" sometimes. Thanks for the reminder, though. I wanted to put in the copyright line at the end of my secret, like I do on my poems and other similar writings. So, I've now done that.

You are right in pointing to the fact that safety would be a top concern of mine with this potential project. I have lots to think about. Keep those ideas comin' people!
Brian: Thanks for your support, and I'm so glad you made that vow. I truly believe we must erase the stigma, silence the shame, stop the silence...and BREAK THE CYCLE of abuse.
I think you have a great idea!! There are so many secrets that I have withheld from family, friends, even myself. A place where people can let out a secret, one at a time, whenever they are willing, would provide an incredibly supportive environment. Maybe there could be two secret posting spots. One for people who would prefer complete anonymity and one for those who prefer to have their name connected. Is that possible?

I thank you for your courage. Sharing your secret helps others address the shame they feel for similar secrets. Congrats on speaking out!!
Thanks, Lish. Boy, you must have esp! I was going about my business doing some other office work and I was thinking about this idea. Suddenly, it struck me: It doesn't have to be one or the other. I don't see any reason why we couldn't offer the option of anonymity or not, depending on the secret-sharing person. Yeah!
(((Hugs))) Marj. One of the things that's so devastating about incest is the tangle of emotions that goes with it. And that's one of the things that can make it hard to share the secret. I have no doubt that your bravery will inspire others.
Marj, thank you for having the courage to share that. It must have been horribly difficult. To share, you have to relive it.

I'm so so sorry.

Marj, I offer a spot on my server for your "secrets sharing" if you'd like. My son has told me that he could set up a forum there for us, and people could come in and post their secrets on the forum through anonymous accounts.

Let me know if that would be helpful, and we could work on details.
April: Thanks for the hugs and vote of confidence.

Moof: Thanks for your warm regards and offer of help. I so appreciate it. I'll have to think over the forum/message board option. I've been fairly active on a couple of boards and I know how much work there is to those, moderating and such. Lots of stuff to chew on here.
HI Marj.

I could totally understand the feelings in this posting. Only one that has been there ever could.
I was relieved when the abuse subsided ( never truly stopped) until he died.
Anyways , it subsided when he went and had an affair on his spouse.
34quinn: Thank you for your understanding AND for having the courage to share yourself.
sending a postcard to postsecret is on my list of things to do also. sharing secrets is hard but in the end, it lifts a weight off of your shoulders. I know just starting my blog has lifted so much off of me each day. remember you are not alone. hold your head up fellow warrior.

Silence and self blame/shame are the best weapons of abusers.
A secrets blog sounds both cleansing and empowering.
I am sorry that you had to live with this, the abuse and the guilt.

thanks for the link.
hey marj - i started to comment on this post last night, but it ended up being way too long. we're on the same page again w/stopping the silence thing, though. ive been wanting to share something very important and valuable w/my readers but just havent been posting much lately... just been doing a whole lot of smoking and thinking about my rape and my life. hopefully i can finish the post today and you can see how in tune our heads are again!

i am SO proud of you, though, for facing your fear and confronting the truth, as difficult and painful as it is. when i go back and read over my previous posts, i freak out that all of this fucked up shit is really my life, but i always feel a little lighter after releasing it all. anyhow, im going to try to finish this post tonight... crazy we're on the same page again :)

so glad ive connected w/you on blog thing... i think we can really make some big things happen to help survivors :)
cassandra: Thanks for visiting and leaving your encouraging words. And,thanks for the hugs. "Warrior." I like that. Carry on!

hope: I agree with your take and I'm glad you like the secret-sharing blog idea. You're most welcome for the link--I love your blog!

ML: Always glad to hear from you. I'm gonna mosey on over to your blog now and see what our like minds have been mind-melding on this time!
What you have done is very hard and takes a lot of courage.
It took me many years to tell about my fathers abuse.
I started my blog precisely to tell about it, and eventually did on my third post. yet I have been unsatisfied with the postsince I wrote, though I left it there anyway. Reading your post has made me realise why.
I have told about what happend, and how it was hard, and confusing. But I haven't talked about how I felt and feel about it.
For years I hide tha abuse, that was my secret. Sice I've told about the abuse my secret has been how I really think about it, and how I really see myself as a consecuence of that.
Thank you for sharing your secret, you have opened my eyes.
I will try to write a post about this at some point, but know I am going to tell here. It is all a bit sudden as I am in the middel of an internal storm. Reading your post has been very triggering (I knew it would be).

I felt, and maybe even know still feel, like I desrved it. When I was a teneager, even though I had suppressed all mameories of the things that had happened when I was a kid, I had a deep sense of my father not being "good". But I haven't talked to him for many years and he hadn't shown sny interest on taking to me either, so I welcome his attention, and I put up with the price.

For many years my relationships with men, boyfriends, was for me a subtle exchage of sex for attention and care, you could even say love, but I didn't feel loved.
I felt more like a prostitute, the difference is that the currency wasn't money.

Comments here or in my blog are more than welcome. And you don't have to nice, just honest.

Thanks marj, I admire your courage.
That must have been incredibly difficult to share. Thank you for trusting all of us with your secret.
breeya: Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a well-though-out and courageous comment. I will visit your blog.

brewerburns: You are a very compassionate blogger. I always appreciate your support of kind words. Thanks!
Hey sweets ... I linked to you. Both on my blog roll ..and to this post individually.

I admire your courage!
Dreaming Again: Thanks! YOU are the one who's sweet!
What a wonderful idea, Marj! (By the way, thanks loads for your always insightful and compassionate comments you leave on my blog.)

Sharing secrets is hard, mainly because our abusers always told us NOT to tell, and in many instances even threatened us by telling us what horrible consequences would be the result of blabbing.

Since starting my blog I have felt stronger than I have since . . . well, I suppose since the abuse shattered my childhood. In a sense, I am constantly sharing secrets, things I normally wouldn't talk about with anyone.

I so admire your courage. I liked what you wrote, and can well imagine what it cost you both to write it, and share it.

I would definitely contribute to this whole idea of sharing secrets if you decide to go ahead with it.

Beautiful Dreamer: It is absolutely my pleasure to leave comments on your blog--you inspire me to write them. I REALLY enjoy your writing. You know, I feel stronger now, too. It didn't really cost me anything to post my secret (well, maybe some sweaty palms). It's remarkable, really. So glad you're willing to participate. I'll keep you posted.
I think that you showed a lot of courage and strength to do what you did. Never doubt your thoughts, concerns, and feelings.

However, I opened up to someone (counselor) just yesterday (Before I even read this post) and shared a secret, and to be honest, it made me feel worse. I feel horrible right now for even saying it, thinking it, and believing that it is even possible.

I was an emotional wreck yesterday, wrote in my journal, had two beers, and almost had a melt down with a friend and school principal.

I will see what brings today, but I still feel ashamed and horrible.
beachwriter: I just got back (had to pick up my boy at the special ed camp) and saw your comment. I don't want you to think that I find it a trip down candy land lane every time I share a secret. I've had many occassions when I felt like crap after (for various reasons). I guess this is one of the reasons why it is so scary to do so. I don't even know what you said, but I'm still proud of you that you did it. It's when it's really a stretch that it probably helps the most to put a dent in our society's armor of deception and secrecy. Hang in there!

Catharsis is hard work!! Kudus, Love, and Healing Hugs to you always!
survivoress: Wow! Kudos, Love, Healing AND Hugs! Thanks! Same to you, my friend.
Hi Marj - Thanks for your kind words and concerns. I still am feeling a little down, but I am OK. It is too hard for me to share "online" for the world to read and see because it is not about "me," but about someone I know and love. They deserve their privacy.

It wasn't about what I do or how I feel about "something," it was basically about this other person and I "admitted" to something. I clearly "out loud" admitted to something that I was thinking and feeling.

But I am OK. It is just a bumpy road for me right now.

Thanks again!
I have often visited PostSecret. The messages are often sad but it's a very aritistic and healing way to express oneself anonymously. I've never submitted one but had thought about it before.

I think your idea is good. I've had one secret that nobody has ever known. It had nothing to do with abuse but is something happened as a result of sexual abuse. I was finally able to tell my therapist and so far, have not been relieved. It was incredible the way she helped me, but I can't put it behind me - not yet. I think there are some things one can never recover from.

I was touched to read your secret and I even understand. Thanks for sharing.
I found share does cleanse and help heal deep infected wounds.
Thank you for sharing you are not alone.
beachwriter: It sounds like, while a bumpy ride, you are hanging in there. Just keep on keepin' on, brave lady!

Carolina Introvert: So glad to hear from you. Been thinkin' 'bout ya while you've been "away." Yeah, sometimes I've told things to my therapist and then not felt relief until I've told others. Maybe it's because I felt like I was PAYING him to listen to me! I'm not sure. And sometimes there's just a whole lot of feeling that's gotta happen before we can put things behind us. Don't know your situtation for sure, of course, but I wish you peace. And doing something really comforting for yourself never hurts!

Wanda: You're one of the people who makes me feel so "not alone." Thanks!

I'm saying goodbye soon to "Survivorship" as I feel pulled in other directions, moving on to different phases of expression and healing.

I wanted to try having a solely survivor dedicated site and I'm glad I did, but I'm too pulled in other directions by other passions to keep adding to it. I thank you so much for being there with me and for being a great supporter and cyber-friend.

Yes, I did mean kudos, not kudus, :-) in my previous comment, but I discovered kudus are the most beautiful antelope and the females are nothing short of majestically gorgeous!

I find the strength, spirit and energy of wildlife healing and inspiring, so now I love to share kudos and kudus!

Check out these awesome photos of some gorgeous kudus! They are great for lifting our human spirits!

Oodles of kudos and kudus! I'll be back to check in on you and visit.
Survivoress: Onward and upward! Please do check in now and then. I left a comment on your blog--glad it's still there for now! Blessings and best wishes to you, fine advocate!

Dr. Deb: I'm assuming that's a "good" WOW. Thanks!
that had to be scarey!! from watching keepers i know how frighteneing it is that people will ridicule you or ignore you or act as though you are making it up. take a lot of courage and a lot of friends like those you have here on line to do it. congratulations!!

john and keepers
John: You're right: Having online friends and supporters really does help. Since I've been an adult, I don't think I've ever been outright ridiculed. I do find it annoying, however, when I'm sharing/advocating and I can just feel this invisible "wall" coming down from the listener. Oh well, I'm not responsible for the fact that some people just can't handle it. I gotta get over to Keepers' blog, now that I'm finally learning how to comment there. Thanks for visiting!
Someone may have said this already but what about a survivors secrets carnival?
Austin: Thanks for the idea. I've thought of that. I don't know, I think I want something without a lot of forms and deadlines and stuff. I'm still thinking on this. After I put up a post about the August Blog Carnival, I'm going to post the pros and cons of what I've been considering. Thanks for the feedback!
You're absolutly right! sharing secrets make you feel better!

for all of you who want to help my Swiss project getting started go to and share your secret :)
Sharing secrets was never so easy for me and that too anonymously and it's all because of , thanks to it, it has has helped me a lot in putting my emotions and dark secrets in words and pictures,it has a community chat where you can discuss you problems also. Isn't that amazing...
NB: I looked at your site. It's very well-done. I'm glad you are doing that, as my Silence The Shame secrets blog has been on hold. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.
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